Archive for September, 2012

Psalm 30

Psalm 30 has the writer praising God.  He has been through some difficult times.  And he lists ways that God has touched him:

–       “you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me

–       you have healed me

–       you have brought up my soul from Sheol

–       you restored me to life

God is active and alive.  He makes a difference in our lives.  He can take our problems and turn them to victory.  He restores our soul.

How should we respond to God’s goodness?  “Sing praises…..give thanks”.  We need to DO something when God is at work in our lives.  We often just take if for granted.  We may not even recognize His goodness and blessing.  But if we stop and look, we can see His hand all around us.  We can see him at work doing things that matter every day.  And we need to stop and “sing your praise and not be silent”.  We need to “give thanks to you forever”.  That is what God desires and deserves.

Does God ever get angry with us?  Yes, He does.  When we miss the mark – that is called sin – we irritate God.  He can’t stand to look at sin.  He is unable to just ignore it, no matter how insignificant we may think it is.  God is holy and can’t just look the other way.  So He gets angry – a holy anger – based on His nature and response to sin.  But “his anger is but for a moment”.  He loves us in spite of our sin.  He loved us so much He sent Jesus to die on the cross while we were still sinners according to scripture.  “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning”.  God offers us a fresh start.  Jesus can set us free from sin!

The promise we get here is huge.  “His favor is for a lifetime”.  God’s love is forever.  It is everlasting.  It never ends.  And while we may do things that anger Him because of our disobedience, He never stops loving us and trying to move us closer to obedience.  God’s love is eternal.  We can experience here on earth, but will also experience for eternity as we spend it with Him if we have taken care of our sin problem through the shed blood of Jesus!

1 Chronicles 22

1 Chronicles 22 is the official passing of the torch from David to his son Solomon.  David is gathering workmen and supplies to be able to build “the house of the Lord God” as a place of worship.  He accumulates unbelievable quantities of resources to be used – “100,000 talents of gold, a million talents of silver, and bronze and iron beyond weighing, for there is so much of it; timber and stone, too”.  There will be no shortage of people or product to get this place built.  But that is only part of the preparation.

David is winding down life.  And as such, he is creating the transition for leadership.  He makes sure to put things in motion to assure success and progress to accomplish his plan for legacy.  “David provided materials in great quantity before his death”.  He took care of putting the physical needs in place.  But he also created a transition in leadership, passing the torch to his son Solomon as he “charged him to build a house for the Lord”.   This is a critical piece that a lot of leaders fail to do well – to identify and prepare their successor to carry forward their plans and be successful.

But David listened to what God had told him.  God promised peace and quiet to Israel, and a desire to have a place of worship where the people would come to focus on Him.  So David makes it clear how that is to occur.  “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, so that you may succeed in building the house of the Lord your God, as he has spoken concerning you”.  David blesses his son as he passes the torch.  But he also gives him specific ways to be successful as he hands over authority and responsibility.  “Keep the law of the Lord your God”.  Very direct instruction that came with the promise of good results.

Here is what comes in the if/then scenario David painted.  If you are obedient, then you will “prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel”.  Pretty clear promise – you do your part and God will bless you.  But David goes on to list some very specific things that Solomon needed to do.

–       “Be strong

–       Courageous

–       Fear not

–       do not be dismayed

–       Arise

–       work

–       set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God

It is a list of very proactive things that help us keep God where He belongs in our life.  This list is not one of sitting on the sidelines and watching from afar, but leading and being in the thick of what God is up to.  We are called to get in the game – to be part of what God is doing.  We are to arise and work with a mind and heart set to seek God.  Are you living that way?

1 Chronicles 21

1 Chronicles 21 retells the story of 2 Samuel.  David sins against God by numbering the people.  “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly”.  He has really blown it, and is given three choices to take as a penalty for his sin.  Three years, three months or three days of bad stuff is what God offers as choices.  And David has to pick one – not an easy choice – and he says “I am in great distress”.  He is going to cause a whole lot of pain and suffering because of his sin.

David decides on the three days of pestilence and God turned his angel loose.  “So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell”.  Can you imagine being David and watching that kind of destruction knowing it happened as a result of your sin?  The burden of that has to be overwhelming.  David had pleaded with God to let him fall into God’s hand.  “God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw, and he relented from the calamity”.  That had to be a great relief to David, but he now approaches God to put a stop to it.

Let’s face it, David doesn’t really have much for bargaining chips.  He brought this on.  He is the one who decided what the cost would be.  And now he is standing before God trying to intercede.  He approaches God with all his passion and pleads “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people”.  If you want a picture of intercession – here it is.  David jumps between God and the people and asks God to bring the punishment on himself and his own family.

God tells him to “raise an altar” to worship Him.  So “David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering”.  David obeys and follows God’s direction.  He is putting God back where He belongs, as the One in control, and David’s intercession and obedience to God’s direction work.  God tells the angel to “put his sword back into its sheath” which ends this very painful few days for David.  Sin has a cost – and often it is a big one – that spills well beyond the person who commits it.  In this case it cost 70,000 their lives.  What a painful lesson in the cost of disobedience and sin!

2 Samuel 24

2 Samuel 24 is action packed.  “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel”.  God is irritated, and He told David to “Go number Israel and Judah….that I may know the number of the people”. God is taking stock and has David get his leaders to count.  It was a big job, and while Joab tried to stop the process, David prevailed.  It took “nine months and twenty days”. There was a lot of counting to do, in fact “in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000”.  Can you imagine counting that many people?  One at a time, all over the land.

But David figures out that God’s anger was his fault.  “David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people”.  He realizes that God has a plan for destruction and wanted David to understand just how much it is going to cost.  Sin always has a great price tag.  We often don’t realize it – we may just ignore that truth – but David comes to his senses and understands that his sins are coming home to roost.   “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly”.  It is a confession of sin.  But here is the sad reality – confession, even turning around and going the other way, does not stop the result of sin.  The cost still happens.

David is left with a choice to make.  God says “Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you”.

–       “three years of famine come to you in your land

–       flee three months before your foes while they pursue you

–       three days’ pestilence in your land

He has to choose one of these rather bad outcomes to pay the price for his sin.  That is another reality of sin. The cost usually goes far beyond the sinner – it impacts people all over their patch.  It is always so costly to so many.  Sin is really carries a high price.  Death is the final outcome.  But along the way, the damage is unbelievable.

David picks the three days – and “the Lord sent a pestilence….there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men”.  What a price to pay.  God wasn’t done, but “the Lord relented from the calamity….it is enough; now stay your hand”.  David now becomes an intercessor as he puts himself between the people and God.  That is what intercession is all about.  David stands in the gap.  He says “Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house”.  David is willing to take the punishment.  He wants to relieve those who are innocent from the punishment of his deeds.  We see the power of intercession many times in scripture.  And as it has been shown in other cases, God listened, and “the Lord responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel”.  This is true leadership in action.  David stands in the gap and prevents far more bloodshed.

Psalm 99

Psalm 99 again reminds us “the Lord reigns”.  How do we know?  “He sits enthroned….the Lord is great…..He is exalted over all the peoples”.  The reality is that our God sits on the throne of the universe.  Why?  Because He created it.  He is in control.  He is in charge.  And we must never forget that.  “Holy is He”.  We are not even close to being like God.  Earthly rulers may deceive themselves, and us for that matter, into believing that they are some amazing thing but they aren’t.  They are mere man.  And God is who He claims He is.

What should our response be?  The psalmist says it this way:

–       “let the peoples tremble

–       let the earth quake

–       let them praise your great and awesome name

–       exalt the Lord our God

–       worship at His footstool

In a word, our worship needs to be filled with action.  God IS and because He is we need to fear and worship Him.  He is worthy of our praise!

We learn a bit about the nature of God here.  He is “holy….established equity…..executed justice and righteousness…..forgiving….avenger of wrongdoings”.  The character of God is amazing.  It is the thing we can cling to.  His nature will never change.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  God never changes.  He is King of Kings.

We are reminded that he had relationships – with Moses and Aaron, and Samuel – but the truth is He wants the same with you and me.  God wants to be our God, not just in the macro, but in the micro.  He wants a personal relationship with each and every one of us.  “They called to the Lord, and He answered them”.  How cool is that?  Not in some ‘genie in a bottle’ kind of way, but through deep and heartfelt love and relationship.  God “spoke to them”.  It is that personal when we walk with God.  He hears, He answers, He cares.  There is one key: “they kept His testimonies and the statute He gave them”.  Obedience is a big part of the walk we need to focus on.  He requires that we walk in His truth.  “The Lord our God is holy”.  There is no other option.  But what better way to live life that walking with the God of the universe!

Psalm 98

Psalm 98 is another chapter about praising God.  It starts this way: “Oh sing to the Lord a new song”.  Interesting that it says we need to sing a new song – not an old one.  Why would it say that?  Some of the old ones are pretty good aren’t they?  But the reality is that God is so good that there is always something new to sing about.  God is doing great and mighty things in our lives every day.  There is always something new to be singing about.  The key is that we need to stop and see what He is up to.

So why do we sing?  “For He has done marvelous things”.  Did you catch that?  God is about creating marvel in our lives.  He is active and alive and makes things happen all around us all day every day.  God is in the miracle business.  We may not consider them all as miraculous – but when we stop and realize all that God is up to – it is more than miraculous.  He is doing great and amazing things.  And we are the recipients of “His steadfast love and faithfulness”.  He just keeps giving and doing marvelous things!

What is God really about?  “The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations…. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God”.  He is about our salvation.  He has made it known to all – everyone to the ends of the earth.  There is no excuse that people did not know about the awesomeness of God.  He has revealed Himself.  He has made it known.  Salvation is out there – in the broad daylight – around the globe for all to see.

So the question that remains is really what you will do with that salvation.  God has offered it through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ.  There is no other solution to our sin problem than Jesus.  Have you taken action to deal with your sin?  Have you received the free gift of grace that God has offered?  He has made known His solution and salvation.  It is Jesus.  The question is – what will you do with Jesus?  That is the real reason for us to sing a new song.  When we receive Jesus as Lord we become a new creation.  We are filled with a new song.  We have something to truly be grateful for.  And the salvation God offers us is truly marvelous and miraculous.  It is all about His steadfast love and faithfulness.  Will you make it yours?  Will you take Jesus sacrifice on the Cross and make it your salvation?  I hope so – it is the hope of the world!

Psalm 97

Psalm 97 begins with these words.  “The Lord reigns”.  Three simple yet profound words that give truth in such a powerful way.  God is in charge.  It is that simple.  He is in complete control, even when from our human perspective it doesn’t seem or feel like it.  That is what we have to keep in mind.  We only see things from our very limited viewpoint. God sees things in its entirety without limitation.  God sits on His throne above all and reigns from a place of complete understanding and knowledge.  God is large, and in charge!

The next four words are equally important.  “Let the earth rejoice”.  That should be our response to the truth that the Lord reigns.  Knowing that God is in control should be the most comforting and exciting thing we can know.  God is worthy of our praise.  We should be jumping up and down for joy knowing that He is in charge.  Yet we either tend to forget that truth completely, or even want to treat it like a negative that limits our freedom.  That’s a very shortsighted view.  God is in control and we should rejoice and be glad in it.  Not having to wonder who is running things should be a very comforting reality.

So how does God reign?  “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne”.  There is clarity around who God is and the very nature and character He has.  God is righteous.  God is just.  We don’t have to wonder about those things.  He is consistent.  He is the same day after day.  And while that may seem a bit scary given the reality that He will deal with us based on that righteousness, it also should assure us of what His expectations and actions will be.  He is consistent and just.  He will hold us to His standards of righteousness.

The majority of this chapter goes on to explain just how awesome our God is.  He is not like anything else.  “For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods”.  God is alone in where He fits in this Creation.  He is Creator.  He is God.  There is none like Him.  And as such He sits alone on the throne.  He is in control.  He is the source of life, and the source of judgment.  Our response should be one of obedience to His will, and exaltation of His glory.  “Rejoice in the Lord….and give thanks to His holy name”!

Psalm 95

Psalm 95 is really all about praising God.  Isn’t it interesting how much scripture points to our need to spend time giving God the praise, adoration and focus that He deserves, yet how little we actually live that way in our world today?  There is a major disconnect between what God desires and deserves, and what we deliver.  The psalmist gives us the reason we need to be praising God.  “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all Gods”.  He is great.  He is worthy.  We need to praise Him.

So what does that look like?  Here are some ideas for ways we can give God his due:

–       “let us sing to the Lord

–       let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation

–       Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving

–       let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise

–       let us worship and bow down

–       let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker

This isn’t rocket science.  We just need to focus.  We just need to put God where He belongs – at the center of our worship.  We need to quit worrying about how we sound or exactly how we do it – and just do it as Nike says.  God is worthy of our praise.

The writer goes on to explain in detail some of the glory of God and the power of His hands:

–       “In his hand are the depths of the earth

–       the heights of the mountains are his also

–       The sea is his, for he made it

–       his hands formed the dry land

We are not dealing with a God here who doesn’t have a history of being great and awesome.  He is Creator of all.  He is the Power of the universe. He is God.  We need to get that through our thick skulls.  The world does not revolve around us.  It is all His.

So what does it all boil down to?  “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand”.  In a word – it is relationship.  That is what God desired.  That is why He created us in the first place – to be in relationship with Him.  That means we make time and take time to spend with Him.  That means we recognize His hand in everything we do.  That means we work hard so we don’t make the same mistakes that the Israelites did – forgetting that God was who He said He was and spending 40 years wandering the wilderness as a result.  “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways….they shall not enter my rest”.  God does take this seriously.  We need to as well!

Psalm 57

Psalm 57 has our psalmist reaching out and seeking God’s mercy.  He purposefully and passionately reaches out to God for help and protection.  “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me”.  The psalmist knows that God is the source of mercy.  And remember that mercy is unmerited favor – God not giving us what we really do deserve but choosing to shower us with His love instead.

Key to receiving mercy is some action.  The psalmist says it this way: “I cry out”.  How do you cry out to God, or do you?  Do you even ask God to be your refuge?  Or are you one of those who is so self-focused and think you are so strong you don’t need God’s touch?  He is our refuge.  His is our strength.  But just like the psalmist, we need to cry out.  We need to seek His face.  We need to allow Him to fulfill His purpose and protect us as the storms of life pass by.

God does here.  “He will send from heaven and save me”.  God hears our cry.  And He responds.  He has the resources.  He has the love.  “He will put to shame him to tramples on me”.  God takes action on our behalf.  He is our refuge.  He is our protector.  “God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness”.  God doesn’t have to ration his love and faithfulness.  It is who He is.  He is full and overflowing.  All we need to do is cry out and ask Him to send it.

God does His part when we ask.  But what about our response?  What should we do?  “Be exalted, O God….let your glory be over all the earth”.  We need to praise and honor Him.  We need to seek Him.  We need to exalt Him above all else.  “My heart is steadfast”.  We need to walk uprightly with Him day by day and moment by moment.  “I will sing and make melody”.  Make a joyful noise, eh?  We need to lift up our voices and praise God.  “I will give thanks to you”.  We need to thank God, in private and in public.  We need to call out His name and let the world know of His love and mercy.  We should not be silent about God’s touch on our lives.  We need to praise and exalt Him!

2 Samuel 23

Samuel 23 begins with “Now these are the last words of David”.  Wow – time to sit up and listen.  What we have here is the last will and testament of King David.  He has settled the crown upon Solomon, and is now ready to give us the final thoughts.  When that happens, it is time to sit up and listen carefully and remember what we are told.  David is a special man.  Check out what we learn about his words:

the oracle of the man who was raised on high

the anointed of the God of Jacob

the sweet psalmist of Israel

The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me

His word is on my tongue

These are not ordinary words.  They are God inspired.  God spoken.  He begins by speaking truth about leadership.  “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth”.  Ruling well causes a great outcome.  Leadership provides light and rain to make things grow and become what they can be.  Leadership matters.  At home, in marriage, in families, at work, at church.  We all lead someone.  We are all leaders and leading all the time.

David is clear that his blessing comes from God.  “For does not my house stand so with God? For he has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For will he not cause to prosper all my help and my desire”?  David makes it clear.

  1. He stands with God
  2. He has a covenant with God
  3. He will prosper because of God

It isn’t about him, it is all about God and the relationship they have.

The balance of the chapter calls out the mighty men by name.  There are three groups listed:

  1. The first three – the guys who have done the greatest things with David – Adino, Eleazar and Shammah.
  2. The next three – these guys were above the rest, but not quite at the level of the first set – Abishai, Benaiah, and the      third unnamed.
  3. And then the 31 remaining are named – they were with David and fought mightily

David didn’t do it alone.  He had a group of men who surrounded him and kept him safe and fought by his side.  It is key to success in leading.  Who are on your list of mighty men and women that you will go to battle with?   We are in a war with the enemy.  We need people we can depend on and trust to go to battle with us.  Do you have them?

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